@sohoplace, 2022

first new build West End theatre for 50 years

The @sohoplace auditorium marks a new departure for contemporary performance space. Responding to impresario Nica Burns’ vision for a truly adaptable, intimate 600 seat West End auditorium, Haworth Tompkins, Charcoalblue, Arup and Tait have designed an intense, sumptuous room with multiple possibilities for artists and audiences to explore.

Embedded at the heart of a new building by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, this project posed a radical challenge for the design team who were asked to deliver an adjustable thrust and in-the-round theatre, all within the tight spatial constraints of a dense Soho site. The answer is an innovative modular system of swing out arms and drop-in balcony cassettes, allowing the auditorium to be reconfigured using overhead lifting beams.

The design was developed and reviewed in consultation with theatre show makers, first in model form through to full scale mock ups. Every inch of space was interrogated to give excellent sightlines from all seats. Balcony fronts in natural golden timber lend the space warmth and are acoustically modelled to both scatter sound sideways and reflect sound downwards back to the audience. These together with the inky blue seating continue the theatre’s colour scheme, set under a ‘starlit sky’ of house lighting.

Noise and vibration from the Northern & Elizabeth lines below, and building directly above Crossrail infrastructure, brought significant acoustic and structural demands. The design solution houses the auditorium within a fully isolated acoustic box-in-box, isolating it from both noise and vibration. A set of state-of-the-art equipment including a large stage lift and trap room, overhead technical walkways, travelling bridges and a dedicated control room, completes the set up at @sohoplace - a highly adaptable, theatrically dense, acoustically precise and physically glamorous auditorium.

“It’s a 600-seater but feels about half that, with two galleries above a wooden stage and a decently raked main seating area. The leg room is good. The acoustics are tremendous. Nica Burns’s theatre feels like something hugely positive for theatreland. And heavens, we could do with some huge positives right now” Dominic Maxwell, The Times

client

Derwent london

theatre owner and producer

nica burns, nimax

structural and services engineer

arup

theatre consultant

charcoalblue

acoustician

arup

project manager

gardiner & theobald

cost consultant

aecom

images

Fred howarth, philip vile

Behind the scenes